Home Water Leak Detectors

Many homeowners experience significant water damage because they don’t realize they have a leak until the damage is already extensive. Water leak detectors are sensors designed to alert you when they detect a leak so you can respond quickly and stop the water before your home experiences serious damage. Water leak detectors are a simple step to take towards securing your home and protecting against the need for major repairs due to leaks and floods.

The Risks of Leaks

Water can leak from a variety of sources: pipes, appliances, cracks in your home’s foundation, a damaged roof, windows, and more. Many leaks are unseen, leading to major problems, both financial and structural.

According to the EPA, the average household loses 9,400 gallons of water a year due to leaks. That can add up to a lot of money, since you are paying for water you aren’t even using. When you do discover the leak, you’ll also have to pay for repairs, and the longer the leak has gone on, the more repair work that may be needed. That’s more money.

Water leaks can also damage your home. Water can cause rust, allow mold to grow, and degrade the materials used to build your home. You can end up needing to replace appliances, put in new flooring, rebuild walls and ceilings, and replace personal effects. You may need professional mold remediation, if the leak has allowed mold to grow unchecked. Mold can also cause health problems such as allergies, asthma, and other chronic skin and respiratory issues.

Because leaks and water damage are so common, detecting leaks quickly should be a priority for all homeowners. Water leak detectors are an important tool in this battle.

How Do Water Leak Detectors Work?

Water leak detectors are typically small electronic devices that you place in areas that are prone to flooding or near infrastructure that may leak. They are frequently placed near HVAC systems, appliances, water pipes, drain pipes, dehumidifiers, and in basements.

water leak detectorsSamsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor

As soon as the device comes into contact with water, an alarm is triggered. Some devices have a small cable that acts as the detector; others are self-contained units. Typically, the detector uses the electrical conductivity of water to decrease the resistance between two contacts. If the contacts are bridged, an audible alarm is sounded. The concept is similar to a smoke detector, which uses a high pitched beep to alert the homeowner to the presence of smoke.

In the “smart home” era, manufacturers of water leak detectors now make smart detectors that communicate with a smart home hub and/or smart phone app to alert the homeowner. This can be invaluable if the device detects the presence of water when you are away from home.

For example, if your smart water leak detector alarm goes off when you are out to dinner or away on vacation, you will get an alert on your phone. You can either go home immediately or call a friend or relative to check on your home for you. You can quickly work to stop the leak. This quicker response time can save you thousands of dollars in repair work. A basic water leak detector (or having no detector at all) would mean that leak would continue unabated while you are away. The water damage to your home could become extensive and very expensive to repair.

What About Leaks Behind Your Walls?

Basic and smart water leak detectors are extremely useful tools for homeowners. However, even they can’t detect every leak. They need to have contact with the leaking water in order to alert you that there’s a problem.

Other signs of leaks include:

  • High water bills. Unexpectedly high water bills are a common sign that you’re losing water. If you have high water bills but don’t see water pooling in expected places, call your local water utility or a plumber for help.
  • Mold or mildew, especially away from the shower. Keep an eye out in the basement, under sinks, and near appliances for signs of mold, which needs moisture to grow. Moisture is a common sign of leaks.
  • Stained or damaged walls, ceilings and floors. Water damage can lead to the breakdown of flooring and drywall, which might first show up as a stain but can become buckling and sagging.
  • Musty smell, even after you’ve cleaned. This smell is often tied to the growth of mold, so take musty smells seriously. Mold is a serious threat to your health and the structural integrity of your home. It should be removed immediately.

If you suspect a leak but can’t identify where it’s coming from, call a plumber or your local water utility. They should have moisture meters that can identify and locate leaks anywhere in your home. Some systems use radio waves to pinpoint leaks behind the walls, which a standard home water leak detector can’t do.

How to Get a Water Leak Detector

Fortunately, water leak detectors are readily available and affordable for every homeowner. Basic water leak detector can be used by anyone and take very little setup time. We recommend the Honeywell RWD21 on Amazon.

A smart water leak detector is a great option if you already have a smart home hub or are comfortable using a smart phone, and if you travel often and want to be able to keep an eye on your home while you are away. We like the Samsung SmartThings Water Leak Sensor. The link will take you to Amazon where you can learn more and read customer reviews.

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